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Misplaced Indignation

In a recent speech he gave at a meeting of the US Chamber of Commerce, President Obama had this to say:

Notice the words he chose to communicate his message:

“If we’re fighting to reform the tax code and increase exports, the benefits cannot just translate into greater profits and bonuses for those at the top. They have to be shared by American workers, who need to know that opening markets will lift their standard of living as well as your bottom line.”

With all due respect, and no ill-will in my heart, I have to say that the man has an utter lack of understanding about the proper role of government in relation to the private sector, how that private sector works, how true wealth is created, and how detached from that entire process he, the Commander-in-Chief, ought to be.

First off, reform of the tax code is only even necessary because politicians (even “transformational”, “post-partisan” ones like the president) have screwed things up so badly. Complicated doesn’t even begin to define our incomprehensible tax code. President Obama isn’t doing us a favor by promising to clean up the mess men and women in Washington D.C. made. The job of the federal government is to help facilitate commerce between the states, not impede it or re-distribute the wealth created by each state.

Second: companies are typically not created by already-rich guys. I cannot tell you how tired of this misnomer I am. Envy and spite are just as nasty sins as greed and miserliness.
Small businesses (which, if they work hard and provide a superior product and/or service, turn into big businesses) find their start when a person has an idea and borrows money to get the ball rolling. They then hire more people as their business grows. Yes, the lower-level workers absolutely matter and should be compensated for their service to the company. Yes, we all hate to hear about CEO’s who swoop into a corporation for a few years, gut the thing, and bolt with lucrative severance packages (especially when they work for government lending institutions like Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae).

But other than offering his humble opinion on the matter, President Obama is not the arbiter of what is “right” or “moral” when it comes to what a corporation (or small business) does with its profits. Companies are in business to make profits. If they mistreat their employees, no one will work for them and the company goes out of business. If they violate the ever-increasing litany of environmental regulations, they get sued. If they are reckless with their profits, investors will pull out and the company will go out of business.

The president is absolutely free to share his opinion, but like all good progressives need to be reminded of, they are not free to “play God” with the fruits of other peoples’ labors.
Lastly, the only reason the American workers “need to know” (e.g. “need to be taught for the first time in most cases”) that by lowering taxes and easing silly and pointless regulations American businesses will create more wealth and prosperity is because two consecutive generations of American students have been taught in public schools (and in the media) that capitalism, free markets, and supply-side economics are all terms synonymous with “greed.” Worse than that, people under 50 generally assume that capitalism doesn’t work, or is solely responsible for any economic downturn that disrupts their un-informed lives.

In short: the Left has vilified the very things that will help the much talked about “middle class.”
Freer markets, lower taxes, and eased regulation (i.e. allowing health care to be sold across state lines) will do almost everything the Left says they want for America.
More jobs. Innovation. Invention. Higher tax revenues. More charitable donations to private charities and faith-based organizations.

The most ironic thing about modern American liberalism is that, if they could ever let go of their insistence upon the government controlling everything, so much of what they fight for would be achieved in quicker, realer and liberty-compatible ways.

If the Left spent its time stoking the flames of creativity, chivalry and charity among the citizenry, instead of fighting tooth-and-nail for the perpetual enlargement of the federal government leviathan that so clearly impedes and confuses those honorable and productive things, this country would be healthier than it currently is.